Team Europe at King of the Hammers 2019

This year, at the King of the Hammers, Europe was represented by 6 teams that raced under the Ultra4 Europe flag. On their return home, we interviewed them to get to know their impressions of this great adventure.

Photography and story by Paolo Baraldi

The European adventure at King of the Hammers began last September in Portugal where Dave Cole has dropped a "bomb" announcing that for the next three years the best european drivers will be able to participate in the King of the Hammers.

 

The five European drivers plus one from Israel who have decided to participate in 2019 King of the Hammers are: Nicolas Montator (F), Daniel Roderick (UK), Iñaki Lanzagorta Egia (E), Neville Ciantar (M), Michael Hen (IL) and Stjin & Wouter Vekeman (B). In November 2018 they shipped their cars to America and found them in the Lakebed on Saturday 1st February when they arrived ready to start this new adventure.

 

Participating in the KOH is very difficult for an American team, imagine for those arriving from 10,000 km away. Time is never enough and there are many things to do: organize the pit, test the car and familiarize yourself with the terrain and the race course.

Nicolas Montador (F)
Nicolas Montador (F)

The fastest of Team Europe in the qualifying was the Spanish Inaki Lanzagorta Egia (E), forty-sixth, with a time of 02:46.00. Daniel Roderick (UK) with a time of 03:23.81 is ranked ninety-first, Nicolas Montador (F), back from an unexpected change of engine, with 03:24.15 is ninety-second, Neville Ciantar (M) with 03:30.43 is ninety-fourth and Michael Hen (IL) with 03:39.51 is ninety-seventh. In the Can-Am King of the Hammers presented by HCR qualifying, the brothers Stjim and Wouter Vekeman from Belgium are ranked 92nd.

Inaki Lanzagorta Egia (E)
Inaki Lanzagorta Egia (E)

King of the Hammers for Team Europe, it was tough, even more than expected! Everyone was aware that participating in KOH was not an easy thing, but unfortunately, bad luck has severely delayed Ultra4 Europe drivers. All six crews can not finish within the maximum time but still result in the ranking. The best, 37th, is the Englishman Daniel Roderick who has put in this dream everything he had. At fifty-eighth place and second among the Europeans we find the Maltese Neville Cianter, followed immediately by the Spanish Inaki Lanzagorta Egia. The Frenchman Nicolas Montador is sixty-third, Nicolas has accused an important break to the shock in the first lap that has lingered a lot and then the gearbox has abandoned him. The Israeli Michael Hen is ranked sixty-ninth. In the UTV race, the Vekeman brothers stops their adventure in Johnson Valley at 76th position due to some mechanical problems.

Daniel Roderick (UK)
Daniel Roderick (UK)

For all the European teams it was an important experience and a great memory that will remain forever engraved in their mind. On their return home, we interviewed them to collect their impressions of King of the Hammers.


Team name: JS Customs Racing

Team number: #123

Country: England

Driver: Daniel Roderick

Co-driver: Dan Thomas

 

Results:

91st in qualifying

37th in race

 

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

My first thought when I arrived at the lakebed was that nothing anyone had ever told me prepared me properly for just how massive Hammertown actually is.

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

Our prologue went well, we made a clean run with a decent time considering we ran with virtually no brakes. Fear of breaking a part we didn’t have with us kept the pace sensible, in Europe we usually push very hard in prologue to get a nice start position. In the USA we took a different approach entirely. Race day was amazing we had a game plan and stuck to it, we picked a pace we were confident the car could handle 240 miles of and it held up beautifully. Sadly some electrical gremlins robbed us of enough time to make a legitimate finish a reality but we are still really proud of how far we managed to get.

 

- The best memory you have of this experience?

The best memory of the experience was meeting the team at the finish line, it was a very emotional ending to a huge team effort.

 

- The hardest thing about King of the Hammers?

The hardest part of King of the hammers for us was constantly holding back on the faster sections to save the car when we just wanted to push on.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

My favourite part of the race was doing lap 1 which I was nervous about as it was high sustained speed which is not something we see on the European circuit, the amazing scenery and the amazing run through Cougar Buttes blew our minds.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at King of the Hammers?

Competing at king of the Hammers meant the world to me, I have watched in awe of the sheer scale of the event for so many years, to actually be part of it was something I’ll always treasure.

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

In my opinion, local knowledge would have been amazing to have and it would have made us much quicker, that said the excitement of a completely unknown racecourse of that size was an epic adventure.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

I underestimated just how rough the parts between the rock trails would get after so many high power race cars had been through. They were brutal!

 

- Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

I hope I will come back. I will try my best to take on the King of the Hammers again. I have loved the whole experience.

 

- What would you do different next time?

Next time, if there is one we will have our wiring perfect so not to waste any time hopefully.

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

My advice to any teams that get the chance from Europe again would be, go as early as you possibly can and put every ounce of time and effort into your preparation of the car.

 

RACE CAR

 

Builder: James Sunderland of JS Customs/Sunderland 4x4 along with massive King of the Hammers upgrades list completed by Dan Thomas of DT Engine Solutions.

Model: JS1

Frame: tubular JS Customs space frame

Engine: Toyota 3UZ 

Horse power and torque: 350HP and 350

Gear box: AW4

Transfer case: Shabs Synchro Ultrabox

Radiator: 80 Series Landcruiser aluminium 

Suspension: Fox 2.5” remote res 14” travel

Wheels and tires: Trailgear Trailready beadlocks with 40” Maxxis Trepadors

Body: Nissan Patrol Y60

Light: Ironman led lightbars

Interior: Stack Gauges, Mirco Steats, STR 5 point seatbelts and Mono steering wheel

Winch: Gigglepin GP100


Team name: Nusu Offroad Team

Team number: #023

Country: Malta

Driver: Neville Ciantar

Co-driver: Lee Ciantar

 

Results:

94th in qualifying

58th in race

 

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

I was overwhelmed by the size of the desert.

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

In the qualifying I took care of the car and drove carefully as we knew we couldn't get a great position even if we raced hard. We started the race taking care of the car for the first parts of the first lap and getting used to the terrain, then began to pick up the pace. We finished the 1st lap in around 2 hours 20 minutes and we went out to the 2nd lap where we had a great pace through the different rock trails. But sadly after around 170 miles of race course, 8 miles off the finish of the 2nd lap a spindle in our front axle broke and it took about 4 hours for my co-driver to get there, get the parts, fix it and get the car to the end of the 2nd lap. By the time we finished the 2nd lap we didn't have enough time to do the 3rd lap and we decided not to go out for the final lap.

 

- The best memory you have of this experience?

Me and my son lined up on the start of the King of The Hammers.

 

- The hardest thing about the King of the Hammers?

The hardest thing was getting the car there from Malta.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

The desert it was a new experience since we never raced in a desert before and it was great and very fast paced.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at the King of the Hammers?

Racing at the King of the Hammers was definitely a pinnacle of my racing career. 

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

Prepping the car to make it as reliable as possible.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

Nothing

 

- Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

Yes definitely, it is a race like no other.

 

- What would you do different next time?

Hope for better weather

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

Nothing in particular

 

RACE CAR

 

Builder: Nusu Offroad

Model: Goat

Frame: Goatbuilt

Engine: Rover V8 4.6

Horse power: 280bhp

Gear box:  ZF Auto

Transfer case: LT 230

Radiator: CBR

Suspension: King Offroad Shocks

Wheels and tires: KMC Wheels with Maxxis Trepadors

Body:  Goatbuilt

Light: Brian Lights

Interior: OMP

Winch: Warn8274


Team name: BudaXtreme

Team number: #51

Country: Spain

Driver: Iñaki Lanzagorta Egia

Co-driver: Jabier Otaegi Aretxabala

 

Results:

46th in qualifying

59th in race

 

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

I can´t believe it, six months ago I was planning the trip to come and watch the race and now I'm competing in it, it´s crazy!

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

Qualyfing: We did what we had to do: a quick test without taking risks and without breaking the car. For us in qualifying there was a lot to lose and little to win. We classify 46th.

Main race: A moment that we had prepared for months; a dream that becomes reality. We start very well and fast. Our GPS gave us some problems but we managed to keep going. At pit 1 everything is fine; a quick check of the rig and we leave again. Shortly thereafter I hear a loud noise ... the front left wheel is detached from the axle. We descend and see our dream vanish ... the main pit is 20 miles; impossible to reach in these conditions. We lose 4 hours before we can start again and what we get at the end of the first lap is late. Around 16.00 we leave for our second round. We arrive in the dark in the areas of rockcrawling but we are happy because it is our natural habitat. We finish our second lap around 21.00 ... now it's late to leave for the third; we stop and Dave Cole shows us the way to the podium where all our team is waiting for us. 

 

- The best memory you have of this experience?

Second lap in the night. We advance through the rockcrawling zones  leaving corpses on the sides.

 

- The hardest thing about the King of the Hammers?

Without a doubt, the length of the main race, many hours in a row, many miles.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

Of course rockcrawling sections, is our natural habitat… the desert also has its charm.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at the King of the Hammers?

A dream to fulfill come true a lot sooner than I expected, a new world opens up for us.

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

Take the race calmly and go adding the maximum possible miles at a good pace with head.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

The length of the race course.

 

- Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

We would like to come back in 2020 because is the mother of the races. We still need to show what we are capable to do.

 

- What would you do different next time?

Structure of my team in the pits, new ball joints for front aluminium knuckles.

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

Bring the car in perfect conditions because if not, you will not take any lap.

 

RACE CAR

 

Builder: Campbell Enterprises & Currie Enterprises

Model: Campbell front engine

Frame: Campbell

Engine: Chevrolet LSX 454

Horse power and torque: 650 HP / 586 FT-LBS

Gear box: 4L80

Transfer case: Atlas 2 Race Case

Radiator: CBR

Suspension: FOX

Wheels and tires: KMC and NITTO 40”

Body: Campbell fiber glass panels

Light: Baja Design

Interior: Sparco

Winch: Gigglepin


Team name: WEP Racing WSR

Team number: #34

Country: France

Driver: Nicolas Montador

Co-Driver: Olivier Varet

 

Results:

92nd in qualifying

63rd in race

 

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

I was thinking at this time: I already came 4 times before and now I here with my car, I should enjoy that the most I can. It was very very cool with the biggest smile on my face under the helmet.

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

Qualifications was harsh without prerunning due to the replacement of my engine. My race was epic! Just after pass pit 1 I broke the front left coilover. At this moment I know the race was done because we lost 3 and half hours. Than I continue just to enjoy it.

 

 - The best memory you have of this experience?

Lots of course but when I stopped 2 miles before the lines, my codriver was gone with an other guy to bring back recovery. An other guy stopped to see me and ask ”are you fucked by something broke down?“ I said “YES” he reply “dam, you want a beer, yes take a beer” and we drunk a beer together with a guy a never meat before. It was very cool.

 

 - The hardest thing about King of the Hammers?

The distance. Before the race we cannot training with the car because I have to send the car 2 months before than on lakebed I do not have time to practice.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

I liked most the desert, it’s the part of race miss in Europe to have 25miles in one shot with 160/170km/h. It was awesome!.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at King of the Hammers?

It means to be part in a massive race. I dreams this so many time when I came to KOH and I was watching the guys line up for the start.I this time I was there. Great great moment!

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

On the car every screws need to be perfect. For the crew, the communication radio are life.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

How communication was crucial.

 

 - Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

What’s a question… OF COURSE. I would like that feeling again and the target it will to finish so…I need to come back.

 

- What would you do different next time?

Better communication radio and a shaft shocks really tight.

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

Work hard on the car before send it and enjoy it. Just enjoy it!

 

RACE CAR

 

Builder: WSR

Model: WSR-500

Frame: WSR-500

Engine: Chevy LS3 

Horse power and torque: 525 hp 650 newton

Gear box: TH400 by ATD

Transfer case: Atlas

Radiator: WSR

Suspension: Fox

Wheels and tires: BF Goodrich

Light: VisionX

Interior: seats OMP

Winch: Goodwinch


Team name: M.H. Racing Israel

Team number: #447

Country: Israel

Driver: Michael Hen

Co driver: Yariv Keler Baruch

 

Results:

97th in qualifying

69th in race

 

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

When I saw for the first time the Lakebed I was amazed from the size anf the logistics.

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

Our qualification started good but after we climb the hill I heard noise from the rear shock so, I reduced the speed in order to keep the car at finish in one piece. We started the race on the 82 position and we run good passing over than 20 cars. Finished first lap and rush to the second with good energy. We did the rock section well passing some brocken cars and we rush to the pit to check our car and for refueling. Unfortunately our crew discovered a a mechanical problem. They looked for a spare part but could not find it. After 127 miles game over for us!

 

- The best memory you have of this experience?

Our best memory is when we was going down Chocolate Thunder and we saw our fans that came from Israel cheering us and waiving our flag.

 

- The hardest thing about King of the Hammers?

The hardest thing at KOH is to keep the car in one piece.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

I liked the rocks because it was very technical and I used my mind and skills.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at King of the Hammers?

Compite at KOH it was a dream come true, we are the first team from Israel to compete at King of the Hammers.

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

I think that the most important thing is to have a good car and great crew with a lot of parts… It is also important to have a lot of luck.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

I understimeted how important is luck.

 

- Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

I will be back if I will find a sponsor.

 

- What would you do different next time?

If I will back at KOH again I will race with a car that I have enough experience with.

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

I recommend to go see the race first and to have enough spare parts.

 

RACE CAR

 

Car: Edwin Abd Builder

Model: 2014

Frame: Lambert Chasis

Engine: LQ9 GM

Horse power and torque: 480 hp

Gear box: TH350

Transfer case: Atlas 3.0

Front axle:  Dynatrac HP ProRock 60, 5.38 gears with Spool, Yukon 35 spline inner and outer shafts, Yukon spindles, bearing hubs, and drive slugs

Rear axle: Spidertrax 9”, 3.5” tubes, full float with new Yukon 5.43 third member with spool. 300mm, 35 spline axle shafts made by Performance Cryogenics, Yukon bearing hubs with drive slugs.

Suspension: Fox

Brake: GM 3/4 ton

Steering: PSC 2.5 full hydro setup, trussed ram mount, new P-style pump.

Radiator: Griffin

Interior: Corbeau Seats with Crow 5 point belts


Team name: Pro Core Racing

Team number: #167

Country: Belgium

Driver (co-driver): Stijn Vekeman

Driver (co-driver): Wouter Vekeman

 

Results:

92nd in qualifying

76th in race

- When you were in the lakebed with your car for the first time, what was your first thought?

It was not the first time i have been able to race there as a co-pilot but the feeling of racing yourself and for your own team is an awsome feeling.

 

- Short report of your qualifications and your race

After pre running our qualifying lap we headed to the start line. Due to some parts that weren’t delivered in time to do some dessert and rock trails pre running we went out on our qualifying lap with to much fuel in the tank. What added weight to the little RZR. Everything went well, no mistakes and we qualified 92 out of 130 racers. The main race I started driving, after 40-50 miles we had a flat tire so we changed it and Wouter took the wheel till we came back in main pit. A quick refill and new spare tire and i took off again to tackle the rocks. We came across a lot of broken down UTV's and had to maneuver around them in the rocks. At some winch points our Redwinch opened a few drivers eyes. "That thing is fast! Others took 30 minutes were you guys did it in 6" was one of the reactions we got. Even with the stock battery we had no issues or power lose while winching. After tackling Boulderdash, Upper Big Johnson, Claw Hammer, Wrecking Ball, Chocolate Thunder, Her Problem, Jack North and coming down Jackhammer the marshal at the stop checkpoint stopped us. He told us they thought we weren't racing anymore due to our tracker wasn't working correctly and blockhouse everyone else was broken down marshals were being pulled from course and were recovering vehicles that were broken down. So with 1h and 20 minutes we knew we wouldn't make it in time to finish. We decided to do what was asked and stopped our race at RM113. We had an awesome time end would race again if we get the chance!

 

- The best memory you have of this experience?

Being able to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings wile racing

 

- The hardest thing about the King of the Hammers?

Getting stuff, you are in the middle of the desert, the nearest town is 1 hour drive. If you don't have a SUV to drive around you are scr**ed.

 

- Which part of the race did you like most, the desert or rock crawling? And why?

Both, going fast is awesome but crawling trough a canyon filled with rocks and be able to make it out is an exciting feeling.

 

- What did it mean for you to compete at the King of the Hammers?

It was a dream from the first time I co-piloted for Bailey Cole in the Every Man Challenge race in 2015 Yo be able to race there myself.

 

- In your opinion, what is the most important thing to do to compete at KOH?

Get your care in perfect condition and pre run the course.

 

- And, what is the thing you underestimated?

How fast the time go's by to prep your race.

 

- Do you think you'll come back again? If yes or no why?

Definitely YES, if I get the chance. Its an amazing experience and I want to finish in time.

 

- What would you do different next time?

Pre run more and get the car there in top condition.

 

- What would you recommend to the next European teams going to the King of the Hammers?

Send a full prepped car, get your team together and plan your trip to every detail. Go out and drive your car on the course and enjoy it!

 

UTV

 

Builder: Polaris

Model: RZR XP1000

Frame: custom roll cage powder coated w/aluminum roof

Engine: stock with Alba computer and fuel mixer

Gear box: stock

Transfer case: stock

Radiator: stock

Suspension: 2.5 front kingshocks IBP, 2.5 rear kingshocks IBP w/ adjusters shock guards

Wheels and tires: Raceline wheels with Arisun tires 30x10R14